A new age has well and truly arrived in the LCK with its rebrand for 2021.
With the LCK’s transition to franchising after operating as a promotion-relegation style league for its nine years of existence, they saw fit to revamp their entire structure, from their logo to roster shuffles to playoff formats to player salaries, and firmly set their sights on the future.
The first step the LCK for their 2021 rebrand came with the rebranding of its logo, going away from the trademark eagle design and introducing a double triangle overlap.
“Our logo captures the confident, sophisticated spirit of our league,” the LCK writes in their website for the interpretation of the new logo. “Made up of two simple triangles, it represents the past and the future, two sides of the rift — and the powerful outstretched wings of a bird in flight. Our logo pays respect to the precise angles and star-inspired geometry of our historical mark.”
Just a few days have passed since the announcement of the rebrand and the league has formally moved to the next step of their general metamorphosis.
With that said, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming 2021 season in the LCK.
New Secondary League
The LCK has announced the creation of a secondary league: the LCK Challenges League (LCK CL). Its participating teams will be the same as the ones competing in the LCK, but with different rosters. Such lineups include players who are in the precipice of rising to the main stage of the LCK. The LCK CL will be akin to feeder leagues such as the NA Academy and the semi-professional scene in Europe.
For players who weren’t able to snatch a spot in both the LCK and LCK CL, such as trainees and amateurs, they can play within the LCK Academy Series and build their profile there.
The 2021 LCK spring split is due to begin on January 13, 2021, with Gen.G and KT Rolster facing off for the opening match.
From there, for the first round of games, the LCK will play for five days a week, going from Wednesday to Sunday with two best-of-three series occurring on each day. In the second round of games, the league will operate for four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday, with two best of three’s happening on each day.
In the LCK CL, its matches will be played every Monday and Tuesday with five Bo1s played per day.
New Playoff Format
The three-round “king of the hill” bracket that the LCK had used for its history will be replaced by a double-bracket playoff format. Like its predecessor, the newest playoff format will be done via single-elimination, meaning teams that lose once in the postseason will be eliminated from contention.
The top six teams of the regular season will advance to the playoffs. The first and second-placed teams receive a bye to the semifinals, whereas the remaining four play in the quarterfinals, with the fourth seed taking on the fifth seed and the third facing the sixth. The lowest seed still in contention will be sent to face the first-seeded team, leaving the remaining squad with the second overall seed.
The LCK CL will adopt the same playoff format for their postseason as well.
All matches will be played in best-of-five series. The date for the LCK spring grand finals is set to be March 28, 2021.
Championship Points Allocation
More teams are able to receive championship points in the LCK for 2021.
For spring, championship points will be distributed at largely the same rate, with first-place getting 90 points, second receiving 70 points, third notching 50, and fourth grabbing 30. But for the fifth-placed team, they’ll get 20 points, which went up by 10 from last spring. The sixth-placed team will receive a minimum of 10 points. Seventh through tenth place gets no points.
Summer encompasses an increase of 10 points across all placements from second to sixth. Of course, the first-placed team receives automatic qualification to Worlds and the LCK’s first seed. Second place gets 100 points, third gets 80, forth gets 50, fifth gets 30, and sixth gets 10.
Roster shuffles can happen in three different periods during the split: at the start of the split, at the end of the first round of games during the regular season, and at the start of playoffs.
As for call-ups and send-downs for players between the LCK and LCK CL, only three are allowed per split for each team.
Salary and Prize Pool
It is now required for teams in the LCK to pay their players and head coaches at least 60 million South Korean Won (£40,603.02 / $55,223.24) for their salary. For assistant coaches, they will receive no less than ₩40 million (£27,068.59 / $36,815.50).
So far, it is not known how much players in the LCK CL and Academy Series will be compensated for their respective salaries.
The total prize pool for the LCK grew to ₩400 million for the 2021 spring split, up from ₩300 million for summer 2020. For the disbursement of the new prize pool, ₩200 million will be given to the championship-winning team and ₩100 million goes to the runners-up.
The newest prize pool rose by ₩100 million from last year. In summer 2020, the total prize pool reached ₩300 million, with ₩100 million going to the champion.
In addition to Woori Bank, McDonald’s, and Logitech, who was partnered with the LCK last summer, the 2021 LCK rebrand brings in Secretlab and HP® OMEN for this spring split.
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